August 19, 2018
The latest tech company to cave in to the censorship wave.
The censorship spree continues on unabated, in spite of the imminent threat of regulation which Trump floated with his recent tweets.
This time, after being bullied by the New York Times, WordPress is suppressing various right-wing blogs over paper-thin excuses.
For the record, they were pretty much the last “yeah, we don’t really care” platform, in part due to their relatively small size and in part due to the “open source” ideology behind the project, which is linked to the original idea of the internet, which was based on unlimited free speech.
WordPress has taken down several alt-right blogs, citing a new policy that bans blogs from the “malicious publication of unauthorized, identifying images of minors.” The change has led to the shutdown of several blogs that spread conspiracies about the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, as spotted by TechCrunch.
The policy was obviously created to target these blogs specifically. Moreover, if they were really worried about these pictures, they could have just sent these blogs a message saying “yo, remove these pics or we’ll take down your blog.”
Of course, the real issue isn’t the pictures, which are just a pretext. The point is to censor the speech of these blogs, because the more they are able to censor, the closer they get to the goal of total control of speech. And it is easy to get people riled-up over Sandy Hook conspiracy stuff and justify it as “too far” in the same way this site calling Heather Heyer fat was “too far.”
Now alt-right bloggers and readers claim several sites have been removed, including conspiracies about Sandy Hook and 9/11. The timing of the move comes just after The New York Times reported on how WordPress was still allowing these bloggers to stay online.
Previously, that content was left up as it didn’t directly violate WordPress’ Terms of Service, which doesn’t state how to deal with false information on the platform. Even though the content was flagged as false, there had been no consequences, as WordPress’ ToS focuses on copyright issues and account security more than the integrity of content. Essentially, WordPress’ ToS is filled with loopholes for abusers to spread misinformation.
After censoring the alt-right, the next step is “conspiracy theories,” which were always considered goofy, but not offensive.
I mean, the press is ramping up their rhetoric to a ridiculous degree here. Just look at this:
“Stomach-churningly offensive content.”
Conspiracy theories? Bleuuurgh!
These people are really getting off on pretending to be offended.
No one really gives a shit if some randos write conspiracy theories about 9/11 or Sandy Hook on obscure blogs that no one ever even sees.
This is several steps beyond pretending to be offended over someone refusing to call you by your “preferred pronouns.”
It’s just the establishing of further precedent.
Parents of Sandy Hook victims had little choice but to use the copyright terms to try to sue WordPress into removing the images of their children. WordPress responded with what it later told the Times was a prewritten statement saying it could seek damages against the parents in response to the copyright complaints. At the time, the company maintained its position that the conspiracy posts were allowed.
WordPress’ stance is reminiscent of how other social media platforms are currently under fire for arbitrarily determining what policies to enforce and whether to police horrific misinformation or leave it standing.
Look, I don’t know anything about Sandy Hook, and frankly, I don’t care. The point is, conspiracy theories, even if they’re totally wrong, aren’t “horrific” or “disgusting” or “offensive.” They might be goofy or stupid in some cases, like those “no plane” space-beam 9/11 theories. But these blogs are just about guys speculating about events that happened years ago. Nobody cares.
But Alex Jones was censored using his Sandy Hook material as a pretext, and so these companies and media organizations have to all pretend together that this is beyond the pale, and that anyone who engages in such speculation needs to be immediately censored. Otherwise, the (slim) facade will slip and expose the reality that Jones was censored because he was a popular and influential pro-Trump figure, and he had to be shut down before the mid-terms to help the Democrats.
Having this level of manliness on the loose is dangerous.